Hungarian GP Preview: Verstappen must keep Mercedes down in Budapest

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Mercedes are again looking to rebound as Formula 1 heads straight from Hockenheim to the Hungaroring for the Hungarian Grand Prix.

Last Sunday's race in Germany couldn't have gone much worse for the Brackley-based squad as uncharacteristic errors by both the team and their drivers allowed Max Verstappen to waltz ahead and claim victory.

Indeed, it was the second success in three races for the Dutchman, who has now put himself in a position where there are even whispers of a potential fightback in the championship, sitting 63 points behind Lewis Hamilton.

For that to happen, however, the Red Bull driver needs to build on the events of Hockenheim, and victory in Budapest would be the only way to keep a few doubts in the minds of the German manufacturer over the summer break.

And a Mercedes/ Verstappen duel is expected in Hungary, with the W10 much stronger on high downforce circuits than its predecessors while Red Bull historically is always competitive at the Hungaroring.

In the Silver Arrows favour though is their pace in qualifying and strength with the tyres, particularly extracting the performance from the compounds on the technical layout.

It is for that reason then that Hamilton, a six-time winner of this race, likely starts the weekend as the favourite, but with Verstappen and Red Bull in the form they are in, you just never know.

Ferrari likewise is often more competitive in Budapest, but with the chassis weaknesses they have been suffering, it would need a significant improvement for the Italian team to join the party this year.

Also critical will be stamping out the reliability problems like the turbo and fuel system issues that hit in qualifying, potentially costing the Scuderia a front-row lock-out

But more interesting will be the battle between Sebastian Vettel and Charles Leclerc.

The four-time world champion will have got a much-needed boost from his second place in Germany, while the Monegasque needs to respond after crashing out last Sunday.

Then there's Pierre Gasly who had a so-so weekend at Hockenheim but couldn't quite replicate his performance from Silverstone.

Red Bull may well expect him to challenge the two Ferrari's in Hungary, and certainly, the Frenchman needs to head into the break on a high.

Entering the midfield where the order was a complete scramble in Germany due solely to just how close the six teams were.

The race wasn't much better due to the ever-changing conditions, with anyone of the eventual top six having a chance of a podium at different stages.

In Hungary, the pack may remain just as unpredictable due to the various strengths and weaknesses of the different teams.

McLaren has been weaker in slow-speed corners than others, while Haas appear to be getting back in the groove despite running two different spec cars in recent races.

Racing Point made solid gains thanks to major upgrades and a second batch for Budapest could bring them into contention on a regular basis.

Toro Rosso traditionally goes well at the Hungaroring, having finished sixth last year with Gasly, with Renault also having that same trait.

Perhaps the biggest question is over Alfa Romeo, but even they can't be ruled out after a recent spate of solid performances.

Finally, Williams appeared to have made progress thanks to upgrades in Hockenheim based on their early pace in practice.

However, it didn't continue through to the race with Robert Kubica and George Russell still at the back of the field, although the Pole was later promoted into 10th after Alfa Romeo's penalties.

On what is one of the most technical circuits of the year at the Hungaroring, it is definitely going to be a big test of the progress the Grove-based team has made.

Back at the front though, and all eyes will be on whether Mercedes can do just as they did in Silverstone and hit back with a dominant 1-2 after suffering a setback.

But with thunderstorms not ruled out for any of three days in Budapest, another exciting weekend is on the cards before the summer holiday.

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